Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA, is an enhanced form of x-ray technology used for measuring bone mineral density (BMD). Using two different x-ray beams to analyze the density of the bones in your spine and hip, DEXA determines the amount of minerals, such as calcium, and assesses the thickness and strength of the bones.
DEXA is most commonly used to diagnose osteoporosis. Osteoporosis involves the loss of calcium in the bones causing them to become thinner, more fragile and prone to fractures. DEXA may also be used to monitor treatment once osteoporosis has been diagnosed.
The primary risk factors for osteoporosis and a DEXA scan are:
- Family history
- Post-menopausal status
- Use of certain medications known to cause bone loss
- Previous fracture
- Diet low in calcium, phosphorus or vitamin D
- Lifestyle with little or no weight-bearing exercise
Prepare for Your Visit
You should not take any calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your DEXA scan. It is best to come to our office dressed in loose, comfortable clothes.
During Your Visit
Be sure to inform the Technologist if there is any chance you may be pregnant or if you have recently had any other imaging exam where you were given a contrast material such as oral barium, an IV or if you’ve recently received a scan using a radioisotope.
You may be asked to remove any jewelry, eye glasses or other metal objects on your clothing because they may interfere with the x-ray images.
During a DEXA scan, you will lie flat on a table while the “arm” of the equipment passes over certain areas of your body. You will not see or feel anything during the exam. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds during the exam. A DEXA scan usually takes less than 15 minutes.
After Your Visit
After your study is over, the images will be evaluated by one of our Board-Certified Radiologists. A final report will be sent to your physician who can then discuss the results with you in detail.